Saturday, April 25, 2009

Gift Shop Ideas

:: duck typing ::
Our troupe met in a favorite Westmoreland HQS, over Philadelphia (aka Quaker City) style steak sandwiches and red style beers.

Nancy Ankcorn
regaled us with stories of being slythe and alone in Las Vegas that time, hit on left and right by predatory XYs, flattering but also hair-raising (mammals may be dangerous).

Our conversation meandered to casinos from many angles, Jon, a musician, having worked in one on the Utah-Nevada border, some town with a line down Main Street, gambling on the one side only. He enjoyed the experience (great carpet, flashy slots).

A problem in Oregon today: the legislature has properly banned the under-aged from dancing in strip joints by amending the law to say if alcohol is served then minors can't be on stage in any performance capacity, immediately killing the symphony and ballet, where many of the stars are well under 21. That's politics for ya, as smart as a Laplace's mechanical duck (OK, Vaucanson's) and his bogus brief for deterministic reductionism (thinking back to Terry's slides for Stu Kauffman (got me thinking of The Turk beating Napoleon that time)).

Given social networking practices, subversive subcultures will likely take pride in flaunting their patronage register i.e. it's not a "dirty little secret" that you've enjoyed practicing philanthropy at a CSN branch. On the contrary, that's street cred. "Smart people shop here" is how we look at it, not unlike the BFI gift shop's attitude (see right margin).

In other news, I'm curious which venue Ewa suggested for the Django conference in September. She's doing recon for CTE. I've started work on my OS Bridge slides, outlining some EduPycon track concepts. A conference goal: have the presentation machine running Jaunty Jackalope, meaning I need to upgrade from Hardy Heron through Intrepid Ibex. I'm working on this over the weekend.

portland barcamp 2008
legion of tech
(may 1,2 in 2009)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Targeting 2012

"Is CSN a cloud computing application?" people want to know. Until recently, I might have said yes, but upon reading up in the blogosphere, catching some Pycon talks, I'm thinking we're also looking at open source hardware.

In my Py3K talk at Cubespace, a baptism for Jody, the model was "free if you want bare bones, extra if you want preloaded with vendors" where the latter are mostly local, at least half of them into organic gardening.

Jody was ahead of the curve in working with a community gardener, gave us the back story when celebrating John Lennon's birthday, a family event.

This was before my bidding on FoodHub (thinking Django) and Michelle Obama's strong forays in this direction. We're in an even stronger position today, in terms of promising home grown delicacies and healthier foods in school (and hospital) cafeterias.

More to the point: our students are becoming more aware of the full life cycle, developing more relevant life skills as a result. Home economics is making a come back... as a high technology field (you can't beat nature, when it comes to high tech).

As I've mentioned before, Fine Grind (previously Wired) is more a bakery disguised as a coffee shop, is also an art gallery. This doesn't mean it's lying about what it is, but that coffee shops may have a deeper side, especially in Portland, a city of esoteric back spaces, missing links, underground comix and geocaching, not to mention lots of old bookstores.

Some shops in Old Town may still connect to the tunnel system, from whence new salts were recruited. The "Chinese navy" needed a few good men now and then, where the verb "to shanghai" comes from.

In a more contemporary Portland, we still have our talent scouts and head hunters, and more often than not it's at meetups over coffee that some real deals get made (or over beers in some cases -- some people stay sharp sipping whatever's on tap, whereas others lose acumen even on ice water).

My DemocracyLab meetings, also that one with Mosaic, were at Common Ground on Hawthorne, well known for its fine rack o 'zines, stellar baked goods, with a real theater around back.

Sam Lanahan met me in Fine Grind, although he more recently joined us at the Portland Fish House, a few doors down from Linus Pauling House which he also frequents when not sailing the ocean blue (another captain, like Barry and Don).

I'm also quite fond of Costello's and Chance of Rain, as well as the two at 37th and Hawthorne: the Peets and the Starbucks, with Oasis and Bagdad for beer and/or pizza.

Uncle Bill and I go to Hawthorne Ale House, where we went with Carla and Sam, other close relatives.

Many of my turning point decisions were made in such establishments, can't say I'm complaining. I've recently added Coney Island to my repertoire (had a Paranoid beer), am planning to do a lot more with the new Fred Meyer's.

Back to CSN: the more ambitious prototypes need TV studio development with lots of designers present. I've got ideas about decor, as one would hope from a CMO, but I'm not the only stakeholder.

I've already tipped my hat to some of my influences, just to give a heads up: we like Tlingit and Chinook, look to family-friendly places like Kaneetah (Warm Springs) for clues. It's a two way street of course, or at least we hope it is.

Obviously, given Google App Engine and Python, I'm thinking in terms of developing a look and feel by that means, immediately solving the ISP problem.

However that doesn't entail any given local shop can't host a lot of its own code on some rickety old toaster farm. Customers like the smell of authentic geek aracana, which you won't have if you outsource everything to Canada.

My attitude: if they're wanting to talk to our API out the back, they'll do so, and in whatever language (XML-RPC? -- maybe just a standard DBI). Python on the server doesn't entail Python on the client, so go ahead and write and run Perl, have tables set aside for Perl divers wanting to show how it's done why not?

A lot of the games will be shipping in binary looks like, so we won't always know what tools were used to create 'em, nor do we need to know. Sysadmins have control over ports so games needing to chat with the outside world may need to accommodate modest CSN sandbox requirements.

We don't provide the Internet to just any random binary that comes down the pipe, plus we're monitoring the psychometrics ourselves, partly why vendors agree to supply a bonus with each payload (plus we're usually good for their image).

Like don't go to a CSN affiliate expecting to load all your own games, familiar from the "home alone" context. Many of our games will be exclusive to CSN. That's part of how we support our client shops, by following the Grateful Dead model: go ahead and copy, but remember, you heard it here first.

Friday, April 17, 2009

More Poly of the Month

dissection of truncated octahedra into hexahedra
using vZome
by D. Koski
D. Koski has taken some of his precious free time, between hard hat construction gigs (he's an HVAC engineer), to spell out his game with the axes, with permuting hexahedra, applying it to our Polyhedron of the Month.

You get "more than one way to do it" (MTOWTDI) closer to the middle of the build-out, with fewer degrees of freedom at the start or at the end. Plus by the end you've got a lot of ghost zomes, flat against their faces. Takes time to go into, more details on the Poly list.

David's game with the multi-axis hexahedral buildout of zonohedra was influenced by The Rhombic Enneacontahedron and relations, a study which later incorporated some of his results. He used his analysis to tackle the great rhombicosadodecahedron (in which the above zonohedron embeds), which lived up to expectations in terms of connecting the right dots. More recently, he's performed a similar analysis on the truncated octahedron, giving CSN an insider track on his results (thx!).

If you're building these in vZome or what have you, consider going to a three frequency octahedron and truncating from there. You'll slice off six arrow tips, perhaps made from ping pong balls, or something similar. Remember your CCP is both a squaresville and a triville, depending how you slice it. Four balls in a square is your intersection set twixt neighboring 3-frequency assemblies (pre-truncation).

:: bubblz w/ ian @ atm conference (uk), post Pycon ::
sent by cell

Monday, April 13, 2009

Show & Tell Lounge

Show & Tell Lounge is shorthand for a section of your shop that doubles as an ad hoc TV studio. Informal presentations, or formal ones, might be captured to file with this setup, blessing your establishment with a library of favorite hits, accumulating over time.

We've been testing this setup in the ISEPP Pauling House, having captured quite a few presentations to tape over the years. Pycon, from whence I've recently returned, opened my eyes to what money might buy. Not every shop needs the same setup. We're not a cookie cutter operation.

So say you have this rant you've been wanting to share. Sure, it's somewhat paranoid and esoteric. You'll have some friends in the audience maybe. Bring some slides, strut your stuff, walk away with a memory stick, upload it to Youtube? Google Video?... ShowMeDo? The hope is our customer will get a record, in exchange for scheduling a performance and delivering the goods. Shop staff get to screen by default, don't have to serve all comers. Try another shop maybe? Sometimes we're all booked up well in advance.

Again, a shop is a place to practice, to study, to share the buzz. We're mostly not competing with professional recording studios that do only this kind of stuff for a living. An off-Hollywood shop that goes further in this direction, one or two standard deviations, might even be owned by a studio. Here's a way to pre-screen while hosting a relaxing, less demanding kind of talent show, less judgmental, less at stake (at least from the studio's standpoint).

Customers need to know when extra cameras are running, as simmering down might be the polite thing to do. Ambient levels of surveillance, quite apart from karaoke, lightning talks, will depend on whether we're in a casino or not, on a cruise ship, other contexts.

CSN doesn't always know your precise circumstances.

Video summaries, suitable for public flatscreen review, would be welcome. I'll contact the Portland Knowledge Lab to suggest this as a new category.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Esozone Shoptalk

:: shoptalk for self schoolers ::

Content providers for coffee shop flatscreens, pretty ho hum right? But do you get many good test patterns, showing off your esoteric tastes? I didn't think so.

What we're into at CSN: Mites, Sytes and Kites. Yes, they rhyme, and yes, they mean something (a volatile combination). American Idol move over.

The Mite: a limit case space-filler, no left or right handedness, except under the covers (yes, that's cryptic -- talking about A & B modules).

The Mite face-bonds, in three different ways (what is this, Sesame Street?) to make the Lite, Bite and Rite. And the Sytes, how do they combine? Into two kinds of Kite, both spacefillers, Kat and Kate.

Did I mention the Mite was a spacefiller too? What am I missing?

Primitive concepts organized in a memorable manner: welcome to explorations in the geometry of thinking eh?

So that's stuff on YouTube, or should be (could be).

Or maybe some other screen showed it first. At a corner shop near you maybe?

In a casino you say?

Remember, lots of smart kids are reading this, might get some ideas. Don't let that stop you though. There's always making 'em with paper (like origami).

Easy: just get each of the above rotating in place, reflecting light sources, apply textures, tune to taste. I should do it in VPython. I've got a Mite done at least.

What is this, a college geometry class? Something for art students? Yeah, sure.

Congratulations Keiko, on getting that window fixed, finally.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Fighting Fatalism

:: statue of Jimmy Stewart, Indiana, PA ::

Whereas we're galvanized by all this spirited talk of ending the reign of nuclear weapons, so conducive to blackmail, we're confronted with opaque institutions that gobble money then smile, ready for more. Where does it all go?

Engineers relish the rare opportunity for greenfield development, starting with diagrams and blueprints, then manga code (prototyping), then some alphas, some betas, a release candidate, a rollout.

CSN is an example of such an opportunity, is a goldmine for FOSS bosses ready to commit to new concepts in the design of social networking institutions.

Our goal is to harness the engine of ordinary commerce, such as we study in Supermarket Math, and use that to fund field operations that require discipline and skills, are transparently about assisting humanity in some way.

The work is clearly valuable and philanthropic, and those tuning in with a spectator mentality, may find themselves drawn in as investors as well.

In directing your winnings to some NGO in the field, you're perhaps signifying your willingness to be recruited by these very same teams. GOs and ~GOs (NGOs) get data about player heroics. The games are designed as prep in some way, or some of them are. You sometimes play hoping to get noticed (the NFL / NBA model).

The US Army uses this same technique, so don't tell me this is pie in the sky. This is just how our culture operates: fantasies (TV), interactive cartoons (video games) and then some choice of career (and repeat, through multiple career changes sometimes).

It's more a question of what do you think is a more cost effective (energy efficient) way of achieving more sustainable and satisfying ecosystems. However you steer is likely to move you closer to the front lines in those institutions you most support.

"Front lines" has a negative connotation when the battles are hopelessly uphill, whereas "out in front" in a circus context might get you a date with Britney Spears. Context matters.

In green field development, we get to design what "the front" will actually look like. Perhaps it's a research facility, a clinic, a staging area for delivering medical supplies? The web sites will show you. Google Sketchup is a useful tool.

This is where investors start seeking a prospectus, a game plan. In terms of screen writing, we look for pilots, doable television, product placements. In terms of software, we're looking for geeks with vision, coding skills, driving skills, self discipline.

Do we find our new recruits at OSCON, GOSCON, or maybe through CSN, where heros leave calling cards, having aced their way through some puzzling fragatorium?

Capitalism's invisible army of the future comes out of the woodwork, when the ambiance (e.g. the coffee shop) is properly tuned ("capitalism" as in "using your own head", as in "doing your own thinking" -- borrowing from Bucky again).

Could the military become more involved in humanitarian work? Of course it might, as our response to the tsunami in Asia clearly showed. More typically "helping orphans" goes on as a side show, whereas the primary mission is to find approved applications for name brand killingry.

Large standing armies tend to become showcases for specific tool sets and skill sets, a kind of marketing force with machine guns for Tupperware (Marines as good girl scouts, Avon ladies at your door). If inventory piles up, unadvertised, start a new war for product placement purposes. Such is the "reality television" of our day.

When that glorious state-owned helicopter lands in your public school's football field, and the men jump out with their painted faces and guns, they're suggesting a possible future of don't ask don't tell fun and games on the job.

The civilian services traditionally get nowhere near this level of government funding, except for intelligence work, which most consider paramilitary in any case. You'll know things have changed when more civilian recruiters come to your school, from NSA for example, yakking about those fun computer camps in the Gorge (learn about RSA from the pros maybe?).

The day the State Department has twice the budget of the Pentagon, is the day you'll wonder why your living standards just doubled. In the meantime, prepare to stay poor and enlisted, perhaps assigned to a Middle East wasteland, rather than enjoying wine and cheese with your diplomatic counterparts.

Civilization without wine and cheese is inconceivable, whereas we were getting along fine without those nuclear WMDs. Putting the genie back in the bottle ain't that hard in this case. Dr. Evil types need those secret caves, like in Bond movies, which few can afford. Refining uranium is hardly an easy process.

Those caves already on the map are closely inspected, on the watch list. Cover ups require a high degree of loyalty whereas if the game is to build banned WMDs, you're likely to have moles with a strong sense of idealism. Defectors will spill the beans, rat you out. We saw this every day during the Cold War.

This idea that it's mindlessly easy to proliferate nuclear weapons is somewhat misguided, probably because Hollywood doesn't talk to the Scott Ritter types, doesn't care if it "stays real". We probably wouldn't have fallen under the spell of bad screen writing, had we a more sophisticated TV viewing audience, rather than an unruly mob with a diet of mostly fiction on Fox. Unrealism (escapism) is a kind of vulnerability. Predators take advantage.

So, are you yourself a dupe for those hot-headed nuke heads? Consider enrolling in some IQ booster classes, like at Cubespace or somewhere. Become more of a geek engineer, less of a fearful nerd. "Step into yourself", as we say on those posters. Get a life. Take some pride in your humanity.

@ Fred's

Friday, April 3, 2009

Save the Polar Bears

Regardless of your views on GCC ("global climate change"), you might have the idea that we need to help animals, as our own net worth, not to mention self worth, is more than a little at stake.

"As you do unto the least of these..." -- did he only mean humans?

Even if the jury wants to stay out on the issue of human causation, we still have plenty of work to do (even compensated).

Should we organize an air lift, an air drop?

Either would probably make more sense than that Kyrgyz operation, that nonsensical spewing of fuel in some "war on nervousness".

Squandering oil to save it hardly helps keep us cool headed, exerts downward pressure on our collective IQ, resulting in stress, acting out, being mean.

Remember how happy the troops were when allowed to help out after the tsunami in Southeast Asia? "Finally, we're not killing anyone" -- what a feeling of liberation!

Yet we still had the best toyz, and even civilians could play. We needn't invite such disasters, we're surrounded by such challenges. On with the circus then!

Thanks to Green Room / Ops for a great Pycon by the way, and special thanks to our CSN CTO in Malibu for Operation Polar Bear (ongoing).

Also: way to go Denver Airport:

Airport Exhibit
:: global warming is real ::
(click for Photostream context)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Featured Polyhedron

by Leonarda Da Vinci
We take our Polyhedra seriously in Portland, our FOSS Nashville, likewise a place for music and publishing. Why? Because we're a Cult of Athena, which has commerce (B2B) with Apollonian and well as Dionysian businesses. More to the point, we have lots of flatscreen real estate, and nothing works better, as a fall-back or default, than some rotating omni-spherical object (like a test pattern), or maybe something more asymmetric?

The truncated octahedron
is our flavor of the month.

My thanks to David Koski for bringing it up. Yes, it's a space-filler, and often associated with Lord Kelvin (of temperature scale fame) who conjectured about it rather fervently. Koski's zonohedral dissection theory likewise applies, although twas the "Great Rambo Head" which took more of his attention.

We talked about A & B modules again, which he sees as "boring" compared to the T,E & Ks. Five-fold symmetry has its appeal, I readily admit. And let's not forget Lucky Seven.

Now our hero is back to work in a hard hat area, keeping our energy grid growing. Stay safe guy!